About The Project

About The Project

Monday, January 30, 2017


Glass can do many things.  It can break, snap, glisten and glow.  When it comes to shaping it and "encouraging" one piece or another to fit into place, I have a large arsenal of tools at my disposal.

Pictured here is my beloved grinding wheel.  It's like spinning sandpaper that slowly wears away the glass with a rough surface.  The white mess you see is the ground glass "sand" piling up and also water which acts as a lubricant to keep the machinery from overheating.  Underneath, I've added a scrap of leather to slide the glass on as I gently rotate it across the face of the rotating wheel.  Without that leather, the glass "sand" would happily scratch my pretty Heisey pieces and I'd lose that magnificent lustre in about two minutes flat.

I'm sure you can imagine the mess this sort of machine makes in the rest of my workshop too - spraying water and glass "sand" with abandon.  Over the years I've developed a deep, cellular loathe for that mess, and so I built a taped-together "hood" or sorts to cover the workspace without interfering with my view.  It might not be perfect or expensive, but it does the job just fine and it has made my life a lot easier to just accept the fact that working with stained glass will always be messy; it's best to let the mess live in one place after all and not stress about it.

That spatter gets everywhere too, and is especially annoying when it gets onto my glasses!  Oh the sacrifices we artists must make for our work.  But OH! how we are rewarded.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A little before and after

By now, I'm getting quite a system in place.  Raw materials go on to the board and a basic cartoon/sketch of how I'm hoping everything will come together.  I start trimming and cutting and looking for symmetry.  Then things start to fall into place, everything changes around, decisions are made, plans are upended, magical little surprises pop up everywhere, and then WHAMMO I get to see how the finished panel is going to really hold together.

It's back breaking.  It's frustrating.  It's inspiring.  It's enchanting.

It's Heisey.  What else can I say?  I am so lucky to have this opportunity.  I think I am the luckiest person around, most days.  Just look at it.  I can't help myself.  Every cut, every bandaid, every burn and every ibuprofen is absolutely worth it when I get to see things like this come together before my very eyes.


Dedication panel thumbnail for the bottom half of one of the doors.


One of the dedication panels "completed" (not quite, but I can hold it up to the light!)

Just look at the changes I made!  Of course, there's still another panel to finish for the other door.  And OH what surprises await!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


I just finished working with this monster of a piece; the yellow one.  It's was a real pain in the neck, to be honest.  The color was perfect, the pattern was delicious, it was an irresistible piece to be sure.


Goodness gracious how was I going to put a thing like that into my lovely work?

Well, of course I found a way.  We're friends again and it's very happy in its new home.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Color Color Color

Heisey is so much more than just "clear" glass plates.  I've made a point of trying to incorporate the variety of colors produced by Heisey into my panels.  These little splashes of color will shine like rare jewels when the final installation is complete.  It's so exciting to think of how they'll dazzle and catch our attention with the sun pouring through them!

Looking back at the raw materials, it's certainly a challenge to make sure I have space for the pieces I want to feature.  Every time I get a new shipment of glass from the museum, there are new surprises just BEGGING for a place in the window.  Adjustments will be made!  

It's coming together, piece by piece, and inch by inch.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at my layout table by the amount of work that's yet to be done; the amount of decision-making and design that's yet to unfold.  How can  I possibly get all of these gorgeous pieces to fit together properly?  How do I showcase each pattern, each color, without ending up with a complicated jigsaw mess?

And then comes a moment when it all just "works".  It's magic, to be honest.  It's work and it's practice and it's sore muscles and aching joints, and it's pure magic.  There's not a shape, an angle or a color in these panels that isn't deliberate.  Each organic curve found its way "home" after hours of struggle and wondering and frustration.  Each detail is mine, but as a whole, I can see the finished product is going to be so much more than any of the sum of its parts.    And that's what makes a project like this so satisfying.  To be lost in the work is as frustrating as it is enchanting.  To see it become its own creature when finally installed, to see it "living" and adored in its new home; again it's magic.  It's a great big spell being cast.    It couldn't be more exciting! (or exhausting!)

It's the little things....

This is a broken section of a plate that I picked up when I was in Newark last December. I’ve been saving it for someplace “special” in the panels. Finally last week the piece let me know where to put it! It is going just above my name plate in the lower panel I’m working on now. The piece is about 6 inches by 3.5 inches. This is probably the most spectacular cutting of any piece in the four panels. This is far and away the most intricate and beautiful cutting I’ve seen.

Of course if I were going to use it, I needed to know about it. I had not seen this cutting anywhere and was worried that it might not have been Heisey. Haul out the books, it's research time! Amazingly, I found the cutting in my first reference book from when I first started collecting/researching Heisey. The pattern is called Churchill #890 and dates from 1937 to 1942. The next step was identifying the plate. That took a little more time but I had plenty more clues. Over on the nearly broken off edges is a fan shape. A-ha! Though the upper center shape is not pictured anywhere, the pattern is Queen Ann #1509 (an updated pattern based on the early Empress #1401), made from 1938 to 1957. The giveaway clue turned out to be the very subtle vertical optic thicknesses that go around the plate. I had just been reading about the various “optics” used by Heisey in the October Heisey newsletter. It is a way of adding sparkle/depth/variation to the way light comes through the glass.

There it was – and listed as a feature of this Queen Ann. This must have been a fairly large platter or serving plate.

There are quite a few pieces in these panels that strike me breathless with their grace and beauty.
This piece is at the head of the list.